We reached the “end of the book” last time we were together. Today I want to begin to look back at Jesus’ march to the cross. I don’t know how long this process is going to take as I have NO idea where God is going to lead us in this study. It is HIS to lead and mine to follow.
The first thing I feel impressed to discuss is Jesus’ singular purpose. His reason for coming to earth to begin with was to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. He came to die. But His death would bring life like never before.
When thinking about Jesus’ “march to the cross” I was reminded of the story of the cracked pot. In the story the pot has suffered damage over the years and can’t reliably hold water any more but it is still VERY useful. Its leaks water the flowers along the path from the stream to the home. The pot didn’t see its own worth because it only saw its failure to do its originally intended job.
No, Jesus never failed and wasn’t “broken by sin” as He walked His path. But He intentionally “leaked out” some of Himself along the way. He “stopped and smelled the roses” every day. He even “planted the flowers” along the path that would receive His water.
One of my favorite “stopping along the way” stories is when Jesus freed the man who had lived for years among the graves because of the demons tormenting him. When we looked at this story the first time I titled it “Mission of Mercy for One.” I invite you to look back at it and wonder with me. Not “wonder” as in “who, what, where, and how” but as in “WOW and why?”
This stop along the way involved a boat trip both ways. It was definitely OUT of His way. In fact, we aren’t told that He ever went there again. He came for ONE purpose, to show mercy to ONE man. A man whom the rest of his community had given up on. They had attempted to help him in the past but none of their “help” did any good. Their help was to bind HIM up. They bound him with ropes, chains and shackles but none of those had any effect because he wasn’t what needed binding, what was inside him needed it instead. Mark shares this story but includes another man who was also released by Jesus. I think Luke focuses on this one man because his story was the most astonishing of the two.
Jesus’ “detour” to help this man didn’t alter His ultimate purpose. It actually enhanced it. He “planted a seed” that would take root in an area He wasn’t personally welcome. His little flower was so strong that when others visited this area later with His message of salvation, people were ready to receive it.
We are not told of Jesus’ early childhood and how He came to the knowledge of His singular purpose. I imagine that as an infant and toddler He was concerned with learning all the things that other babies do. NO WAY was He walking and talking, sharing God’s word, minutes or months after birth. He grew up just like the rest of humanity. But at some point, He began to embody the purpose He came for. By twelve years of age He already knew His Father and what His Father wanted of Him. We see this in the story shared by Luke of Jesus as a boy teaching in the temple.
Here is a quick side note on that story. In Jewish customs the boy becomes a man at the age of 13. Before this time all his sins are accounted to his father because he is not considered of a responsible age before then. It is his parent’s responsibility to discipline him to remove the root of misbehavior out of him. Jesus was already acting in the fashion of a man as He taught in the temple. His “disobedience” of not accompanying the family on their journey home was in “obedience” to His true Father. He expected His earthly family would be expecting such behavior. He didn’t realize He was “missing” to them. He thought they would know exactly where to look and wouldn’t even have been concerned with His delay. To Him it was a natural extension of His singular purpose.
Jesus set His face towards the cross LONG before “Passion week.” From the moment in creation when God said, “We are going to need to help man” Jesus was committed. And this was NOT an easy commitment to make. It was NOT a “pie crust promise”; easily made, easily broken. This was a commitment that took EVERYTHING in Him and then some to carry it out.
Jesus’ final night in Gethsemane was the ultimate test of His commitment. He knew LONG before that night what was going to be required but that was way in the future and He could push it to the side, for a time. He got to enjoy the journey along the way. But that final night there was no more putting it to the side. He was face to face with the finish line but there was torture required to cross that line.
Honestly, if He had been given HIS way in the matter, He would have walked away and not gone to the cross. But He subjected His own will to the Father’s. He continued to be obedient to the singular purpose the Father sent Him here for. And I say continued because he truthfully could have hung it all up at any point along the way. He could have said yes to ANY of Satan’s temptations. But He didn’t. He could have refused to give up His own comfort when someone wanted His help. But He didn’t do that either. He could have walked away from the discussions with the religious leaders and said, “Talk to the hand.” But He kept on fighting for man’s hearts and didn’t give up then either. He FREELY CHOSE the cross. But He also freely chose to “water His garden” all the way there.
Lord Jesus, thank You for “planting and watering the flowers” along the way. Thank You for Your willingness to take my place, even knowing that I would fail You on SO MANY occasions. I fall way short of a “singular purpose.” Thank You for refocusing me when I wander. Thank You for cleaning me up when I have been out playing in the mud. Thank You for showing me Your faithfulness again and Again and AGAIN. Thank You for showing me that I am loved and valuable to You and that I too have a purpose in Your Kingdom. Help me walk in that purpose every day.